CULT CLASSIC: MOONSHINE AKA MONICA RYPMA AND FRIENDS-CLASSIFIEDS.
Cult Classic: Moonshine aka Monica Rypma and Friends-Classifieds.
When Monica Rypma’s released her album Classifieds as a private press in 1985, little did she know that one day, it would be much-prized rarity amongst collectors and fans of the folk-funk genre. That’s why nowadays, original copies of Classifieds are changing hands for ever increasing sums of money, and the album is belatedly starting to find a wider audience. Classifieds is also an album with a fascinating backstory that showcases a truly talented singer-songwriter.
Monica Rypma’s musical career began in 1976, when she decided to make the move from her home in Holland to London, to follow her dream of making a career out of music.
Upon her arrival in London, Monica Rypma wanted to find as a flat as close as possible to the West End where she began making her dream reality. Soon, she was taking classes, doing auditions, working as a backing vocalist and writing songs. To make ends meet, the aspiring singer worked in hotels and restaurants during the day. By night, she followed her dream.
In the early eighties, Monica Rypma returned home to Holland, where she enrolled at Conservatorium van Amsterdam. It had followed the example of American universities including Berkeley and The Juliard School and had opened a Jazz Department. This was the start of the next chapter in Monica Rypma’s career.
By then, had already started singing with bands and was singing professionally. This included with Moonshine and The Blaze which featured her brother Hans and friends. The band were soon making progress, embarking upon a tour and even playing in London. Things were looking good for Monica Rypma.
Then in 1985, when a relationship ended, Monica Rypma walked out of her course at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. She took refuge in music, and after being inspired by René Van Helsdingen, the composer, pianist and crowdfunding pioneer who was also based in Amsterdam, began work on the project that would eventually become her debut album Classifieds.
To raise the funds to produce the album, Monica Rypma decided to fund the album using sponsorship and crowdfunding which was in its infancy. She decided to sell advertising space on the album sleeve, which would look like a newspaper. That was why the album was entitled Classifieds.
Fortunately for Monica Rypma it was relatively easy to sell advertising space on the cover of Classifieds. Businesses including shops, bars, restaurants and record shops bought space. This was just the start.
Having recorded a demo at a local studio Monica Rypma went to trade fairs and anywhere else she thought she would encounter potential advertisers. When they heard the demo and saw a mock-up of the album sleeve they bought advertising space. With this being an LP, there was plenty of space for dozens of advertisers. This was enough to fund the recording of the album.
Now that Monica Rypma enough money to record her debut album, there was just one problem. She didn’t have enough material for an album. Over the next few months, jam sessions took place but still there was a shortage of new material. That was when René Van Helsdingen mentioned the name of a musician he had worked with before, Brian Batie.
He was an arranger, composer, producer, synth virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist who at the time, was living in Los Angeles. Brian Batie returned home to work on the album and his contribution to Classifieds proved to be invaluable.
Initially, Monica Rypma, René Van Helsdingen and Brian Batie had what was akin to a few musical sketches. These they fleshed out, and soon, they had the lyrics to the songs on Classifieds. They were joined by the six Interludes on that featured on the album.
The thirteen tracks on Classifieds were recorded in just three days during September 1985 at Farmsound Studios. Monica Rypma and Brian Batie produced the album, which was engineered by Wil Hesen. With the album completed, the release of Classifieds was scheduled for later in the year.
Before that, friends and family helped Monica Rypma to print, fold and assemble the copies of Classifieds. It was like a cottage industry. By the time the process was complete, it looked like there were three different versions of the album.
This caused wasn’t the case. With a tight budget, when one colour of ink ran out, another was used. This explained why there some of the Classifieds’ album covers were yellow while others were green or pink.
Now the album could be distributed to people who had supported the crowdfunding of Classifieds. The remaining copies were distributed to shops. However, before long the album had disappeared from view and nothing more was heard of Classifieds until recently.
That was when a new generation of DJs and music lovers discovered the delights of Classifieds with its mixture of DIY synch pop, eighties electronica, folk-funk, psychedelia and Balearic interludes. It’s a truly enchanting and oft-overlooked hidden gem.
Classifieds opens with Everybody Came To Rock. It’s hook-laden, melodic and memorable as synth pop meets elements of electronica and rock and sets the bar high for the rest of the album. The quality continues on Haunted, one of the album’s highlights. This heartachingly beautiful ballad is wistful, ruminative and and features a vocal full of hurt and heartache. It’s sure to tug at the heartstring.
Interlude “After War” is an ambient, understated, experimental and cinematic track that paints pictures. Then What’s The Sense Of War is a quintessential and thought-provoking slice of eighties synth pop that showcases Monica’s vocal prowess. In an instant, the listener is transported back to 1985 on a track that’s the musical equivalent of time travel.
Interlude “Senses” is an ethereal, spacious, dreamy and truly beautiful track that meanders magically along. On Sunrise joyous, scatted vocal sits above a genre-melting arrangement where synth pop, eighties electronica and a hint of Eastern influences collide. Then it’s all change on Interlude “Record Change” which closed the first side of Classifieds. It’s dark , dramatic and even gothic
Very different is Hey, Where You Goin.’ It features a driving arrangement where an eclectic selection of instruments melt into one and provide the perfect accompaniment to a breathy, coquettish, needy and sensual vocal on a truly memorable track.
Interlude “Westertoren” is a cinematic scene setter that deserves to feature in a movie.
Ik Hou Veel Van Jou features an emotive vocal that one minute seems wistful but later, delivered with a smile. Meanwhile, drums provide the heartbeat to the synth pop arrangement. Then synths play and transport the listener far from Amsterdam during this Interlude “Koto.”
The centrepiece of the album is a beautiful synth pop ballad that features Monica’s finest vocal. Harmonies accompany her providing the perfect accompaniment offering encouragement to “Let Love Flow.”
Then it’s all change on Interlude “Aqua + Uitro.” It’s best describes as otherworldly, experimental, filmic and latterly rhythmic as the album marches to a close leaving just magical memories of Classifieds the debut from Moonshine aka Monica Rypma and Friends.
Monica Rypma is without doubt, a truly talented singer-songwriter. Sadly, her 1985 debut album Celebrations failed to find the audience it so richly deserved. This oft-overlooked cult classic is a captivating mixture of musical genres where carefully crafted songs and ambient interludes sit side-by-side. Everything from ambient, DIY synch pop, eighties electronica, folk-funk, psychedelia, rock and soul are joined by beautiful ballads and Balearic interludes on Celebrations which is Moonshine aka Monica Rypma and Friends’ oft-overlooked and enchanting hidden gem that belatedly, is starting to find the wider audience it deserves thanks to a new generation of DJs and music lovers.
Cult Classic: Moonshine aka Monica Rypma and Friends-Classifieds.